IFDP 2001-716
Putty-Putty, Two Sector, Vintage Capital Growth Models


Most growth models assume capital is homogeneous with regard to technology. This contradicts intuition and empirical evidence that the majority of technology is embodied in the capital stock. Berger (2001) showed that neoclassical vintage capital (embodied technology) and non-vintage capital (disembodied technology) models have different convergence rates, although identical steady state growth rates. Removing the neoclassical assumption that technological growth is exogenous, I examine two-sector, putty-putty, vintage capital models. Technological growth is tied to investment in the research sector. Savings rates and the allocation of labor differ between the vintage and non-vintage cases. It is shown for the first time that vintage and non-vintage versions of a model can have different steady state growth rates.

Keywords: Productivity, technology

IFDP 2001-715
Inflation Dynamics


Gali and Gertler (1999) are the first to find that the baseline sticky price model fits the U.S. data well. I examine the robustness of their estimates along two dimensions. First, I show that their IV estimates are not robust to an alternative normalization of the moment condition being estimated. However, when using a Monte Carlo study to investigate small-sample properties, I show that the normalization chosen by Gali and Gertler (1999) yields a superior estimator. Second, I check whether or not the proportion of backward-looking firms augmenting the baseline model to fit the data is dependent on the type of contracting assumed. I find that using Taylor-style contracts, rather than Calvo-style contracts, this proportion jumps to 50 percent.

Keywords: Phillips Curve, staggered contracts, Monte Carlo

IFDP 2001-714
Exchange Rate Forecasting: The Errors We've Really Made

Jon Faust, John H. Rogers, and Jonathan Wright


We examine the forecasting performance of standard macro models of exchange rates in real time, using dozens of different vintages of the OECD's Main Economic Indicators database. We calculate out-of-sample forecasts as they would have been made at the time, and compare them to a random walk alternative. The resulting "time series" of forecast performance indicates that both data revisions and changes in the sample period typically have large effects on exchange rate predictability. We show that the favorable evidence of long-horizon exchange rate predictability for the DM and Yen in Mark (1995) is present in only a narrow two-year window of data vintages around that used by Mark. In addition, approximately one-third of the improved forecasting performance of Mark's monetary model over a random walk is eventually undone by data revisions. Related to this, we find the models consistently perform better using original release data than using fully revised data. Finally, we find that model-based exchange rate forecasts are sometimes better when using Federal Reserve Staff forecasts of future fundamentals instead of actual future values of fundamentals. This contradicts a cherished presumption in the literature that dates all the way back to Meese and Rogoff (1983).

Keywords: Monetary model, real time data, random walk

IFDP 2001-713
Convergence in Neoclassical Vintage Capital Growth Models


Most growth models assume capital is homogeneous. This contradicts intuition and empirical evidence that the majority of technology is embodied in the capital stock. Classic papers from the late 1950's and 1960's show that non-optimization models display the same asymptotic growth rates whether technology is embodied (vintage capital) or disembodied. This paper uses new numerical optimization techniques to solve for the entire time paths of the key economic variables for optimization versions of the three main types of vintage capital models. The conclusion is that although steady state growth rates may be the same, the transition paths, especially as characterized by convergence rates, vary greatly between the vintage and non-vintage capital models.

Keywords: Productivity, technology

IFDP 2001-712
Evidence Uncovered: Long-Term Interest Rates, Monetary Policy, and the Expectations Theory


A large body of literature has failed to find conclusive evidence that the expectations theory of the term structure holds in U.S. data. This paper asks more narrowly whether the theory holds conditional on an exogenous change in monetary policy. We argue that previous work on the expectation theory has failed to sufficiently account for interactions between monetary policy and bond markets in the determination of long and short interest rates. Using methods that directly account for this interaction, we find strong evidence supporting a term structure channel for policy that is consistent with the expectations theory. We show that the marginal effect of our consideration for this source of simultaneity bias is significant in uncovering evidence for the theory. We also discuss previous claims that policy regime changes and short-term interest rate smoothing by the Fed accounts for the theory's unconditional failure in light of our findings.

Keywords: Term structure, vector autoregression, interest rate smoothing, policy regimes, Bayesian VAR

IFDP 2001-711
The Contribution of Domestic and External Factors to Emerging Market Devaluation Crises: An Early Warning Systems Approach

Steven B. Kamin, John W. Schindler, and Shawna L. Samuel


In this paper, a modified "early warning system" (EWS) approach is developed to identify the roles of domestic and external factors in emerging market crises. Several probit models of financial crises were estimated for 26 emerging market countries. These models were used to identify the separate contributions to the probabilities of crisis of domestic and external variables. We found that, relative to domestic factors, adverse external shocks and large external imbalances contributed little to the average estimated probability of crisis in emerging market countries, but accounted for much more of the spikes in the probability of crisis estimated to occur during actual crisis years. We interpret these results to suggest that while, on average over time, domestic factors have tended to contribute to much of the underlying vulnerability of emerging market countries, adverse swings in external factors may have been important in pushing economies "over the edge" and into financial crisis. In consequence, the costs of giving up exchange rate flexibility through adoption of strongly fixed exchange rate regimes--e.g., currency boards or dollarization--may be quite high for some countries.

Keywords: Currency crises, financial crises, devaluations, probit models

IFDP 2001-710
Testing Optimality in Job Search Models


This paper uses Bayesian techniques to compare three definitions of optimality for the basic job search model: the standard income-maximizing definition, an approximation to the standard definition, and a simple alternative. The important role of prior choice in these comparisons is illustrated. Using natural conjugate priors to represent hypothetical samples of data, we find that the simple alternative is preferred to the standard definition of optimality. However, using priors constructed from findings in the literature, we are able to find some evidence in favor of the standard definition of optimality.

Keywords: Bayesian analysis, Bayes factors

IFDP 2001-709
Exchange-Rate Exposure of Multinationals: Focusing on Exchange-Rate Issues


This paper examines exchange-rate exposure of multinationals (MNEs) in light of detailed exchange rate data. Specifically, using MNE-specific exchange rates and accounting for the possibility that exchange-rate crises may impact a firm differently than periods of normal fluctuations, estimates suggest ¼ of all MNEs had significant exchange rate exposure between 1995 and 1999. On average, significant exposure is estimated to be 0.68, indicating that a firm's monthly return falls, on average, by 0.68 percentage points when the dollar appreciates one percent. This encompasses periods where there are normal fluctuations in the exchange rate and the average exposure is estimated to be 0.55, as well as crisis periods where the average exposure is estimated to be 2.8. Finally, results illustrate that MNEs operating in more than 20 countries (having more than 30 subsidiaries) have twice the exposure of MNEs operating in one country (having one subsidiary).

Keywords: Crisis indicators, multinational-specific exchange rate

IFDP 2001-708
A Simple Measure of the Intensity of Capital Controls

Hali J. Edison and Francis E. Warnock


We propose a monthly measure of the intensity of capital controls across 29 emerging markets. Our measure, which is based on restrictions on foreign ownership of equities, provides information on the extent and evolution of financial liberalization. Using the measure, we show that a complete liberalization results in a much sharper decrease in the cost of capital than previously reported, but following a partial liberalization the cost of capital increases. Moreover, the more complete the liberalization is, the greater are the subsequent exchange rate appreciation and capital inflows.

Related Material: Spreadsheet containing Edison-Warnock capital controls measure for 29 countries, Dec. 1988 - Dec. 2000; Edison Warnock Restrictions Measure (75 KB ZIP)

Original version (PDF)

Keywords: Emerging markets, international financial liberalization, openness, portfolio investment

IFDP 2001-707
The Less Volatile U.S. Economy: A Bayesian Investigation of Timing, Breadth and Potential Explanations

Chang-Jin Kim, Charles Nelson, and Jeremy Piger


Using Bayesian tests for a structural break at an unknown break date, we search for a volatility reduction within the post-war sample for the growth rates of U.S. aggregate and disaggregate real GDP. We find that the growth rate of aggregate real GDP has been less volatile since the early 1980's, and that this volatility reduction is concentrated in the cyclical component of real GDP. The growth rates of many of the broad production sectors of real GDP display similar reductions in volatility, suggesting the aggregate volatility reduction does not have a narrow source. We also find a large volatility reduction in aggregate final sales mirroring that in aggregate real GDP. We contrast this evidence to an existing literature documenting an aggregate volatility reduction that is shared by only one narrow sub-component, the production of durable goods, and is not present in final sales. In addition to the volatility reduction in real GDP, we document structural breaks in the volatility and persistence of inflation and interest rates occurring over a similar time frame as the volatility reduction in real GDP.

Keywords: Volatility reduction, stabilization, structural break, Bayesian

IFDP 2001-706
Interpreting the Volatility Smile: An Examination of the Information Content of Option Prices

Steven Weinberg


This paper evaluates how useful the information contained in options prices is for predicting future price movements of the underlying assets. We develop an improved semiparametric methodology for estimating risk-neutral probability density functions (PDFs), which allows for skewness and intertemporal variation in higher moments. We use this technique to estimate a daily time series of risk-neutral PDFs spanning the late 1980's through 1999, for S&P 500 futures, U.S. dollar/Japanese yen futures and U.S. dollar/deutsche mark futures, using options on these futures. For the foreign exchange futures, we find little discernable additional information contained in the estimated PDFs beyond the information derived from the Black-Scholes model, a fully parametric specification. For S&P 500 futures, we find that the risk-neutral distribution implied by the volatility smile better fits the realized returns than the Black-Scholes model, although this better overall fit is not exhibited in the second and third moments.

Keywords: Foreign exchange, derivative asset pricing, probability density functions

IFDP 2001-705
An Empirical Comparison of Bundesbank and ECB Monetary Policy Rules

Jon Faust, John Rogers, and Jonathan H. Wright


We estimate a monetary policy reaction function for the Bundesbank and use it as a benchmark to assess the monetary policy of the ECB since the launch of the euro in January 1999. We find that euro interest rates are low relative to this benchmark. We consider several possible reasons for this, including the divergence between core and headline inflation, inflation having turned out to be higher than could have been foreseen by the ECB and the possibility that the ECB is focussing only on macroeconomic conditions in a subset of member countries. We argue that these potential explanations cannot account for the difference between recent interest rates and our estimated Bundesbank benchmark. Our results suggest that the reaction function of the ECB features a high weight on the output gap relative to the weight on inflation, compared to the Bundesbank.

Keywords: Taylor Rule, Monetary Policy, European Central Bank, Bundesbank, Inflation

IFDP 2001-704
Monetary Policy and Exchange Rate Pass-Through

Joseph E. Gagnon and Jane Ihrig


The pass-through of exchange rate changes into domestic inflation appears to have declined in many countries since the 1980s. We develop a theoretical model that attributes the change in the rate of pass-through to increased emphasis on inflation stabilization by many central banks. This hypothesis is tested on twenty industrial countries between 1971 and 2003. We find widespread evidence of a robust and statistically significant link between estimated rates of pass-through and inflation variability. We also find evidence that observed monetary policy behavior may be a factor in the declining rate of pass-through.

Original version (PDF)

Keywords: Inflation targeting, Taylor rule

IFDP 2001-703
Permanent and Transitory Components of Business Cycles: Their Relative Importance and Dynamic Relationship

Chang-Jin Kim, Jeremy Piger, and Richard Startz


This paper investigates the relationship between permanent and transitory components of U.S. recessions in an empirical model allowing for business cycle asymmetry. Using a common stochastic trend representation for real GNP and consumption, we divide real GNP into permanent and transitory components, the dynamics of which are different in booms vs. recessions. We find evidence of substantial asymmetries in postwar recessions, and that both the permanent and transitory component have contributed to these recessions. We also allow for the timing of switches from boom to recession for the permanent component to be correlated with switches from boom to recession in the transitory component. The parameter estimates suggest a specific pattern of recessions: switches in the permanent component lead switches in the transitory component both when entering and leaving recessions.

Keywords: Asymmetry, economic fluctuations, Markov-switching

IFDP 2001-702
Home Bias and High Turnover Reconsidered

Francis E. Warnock


The Tesar and Werner (1995) finding of very high turnover rates on foreign equity portfolios is based on an underestimation of cross-border equity positions. Foreign turnover rates calculated using information from comprehensive benchmark surveys on cross-border holdings are much lower than previously reported and comparable to domestic turnover rates. However, the basic intuition from the Tesar-Werner study, that transaction costs do not help explain the observed home bias, is confirmed using data on transaction costs in 41 markets.

Original version (PDF)

Keywords: Transaction costs, international portfolio diversification, turnover rates

IFDP 2001-701
The Use of Cyclical Indicators in Estimating the Output Gap in Japan

Jane Haltmaier


The paper uses capital and labor utilization rates to derive estimates of the Japanese output gap and potential output. Two techniques are used. The first uses the cyclical indicators to adjust potential output estimates derived from a Hodrick-Prescott filter over the most recent period when such estimates are generally considered to be unreliable. The second estimates equilibrium levels of the cyclical indicators and uses an Okun's Law-type relationship to derive output gaps and potential output. The second method is also applied to the components of potential output to derive a third estimate. These methods suggest that the current Japanese output gap is considerably larger than a simple Hodrick-Prescott filter would suggest.

Keywords: Potential output, output gap

IFDP 2001-700
A Retrospective on J. Denis Sargan and His Contributions to Econometrics

Neil R. Ericsson, Esfandiar Maasoumi, and Grayham E. Mizon


This retrospective provides a biographical history of Denis Sargan's career and reviews his contributions to econometrics, emphasizing the breadth of his work in both theoretical and applied econometrics. We include a complete bibliography for Denis and a list of PhD theses that he supervised--students were a substantive facet of his professional life. Finally, two of Denis's previously unpublished manuscripts on model building now appear in print.

Full paper (1190 KB Postscript)

Keywords: Dynamic specification, econometrics, error correction model, finite sample distributions, identification, instrumental variables, model building, numerical computation, prices, production function, specification searches, wages

IFDP 2001-699
Price Level Convergence, Relative Prices, and Inflation in Europe


If price levels are initially different across the euro area, convergence to a common level of prices would imply that inflation will be higher in countries where prices are initially low. Price level convergence thus provides a potential explanation for recent cross-country differences in European inflation, a worrisome development under the ECBs "one-size-fits-all" monetary policy. I present direct evidence on price level convergence in Europe, using a unique data set, and then investigate how much of the recent divergence of national inflation rates can be explained by price level convergence. I show that between 1990 and 1999 prices did become less dispersed in the euro area. Convergence is especially evident for traded goods, and more in the first half of the 1990s than the second half. By some measures, traded goods price dispersion across the euro area is now close to that across U.S. cities. Despite an on-going process of convergence, deviations from the law of one price are large. Finally, I find a statistically-significant and robust negative relationship between the 1999 price level and 2000 inflation rate in Europe, and that the contribution of price level convergence to explaining inflation differentials is often quite important economically. Still, factors other than price convergence explain most of the cross-country inflation differences.

Keywords: Prices, economic integration, exchange rates, purchasing power parity, euro

IFDP 2001-698
Border Effects within the NAFTA Countries

John H. Rogers and Hayden P. Smith


Using consumer price indexes from cities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, we estimate the "border effect" on U.S.-Mexican relative prices and find that it is nearly an order of magnitude larger than for U.S.-Canadian prices. However, during a very stable sub-period in Mexico (May 1988 to November 1994), the "width" of the U.S.-Mexican border falls dramatically and becomes approximately equal to the U.S.-Canadian border. We then show that when consideration is limited to cities lying geographically very close to the U.S.-Mexican border--San Diego, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Tijuana, Mexicali, Juarez, and Matamoros--the border width falls compared to that estimated with the full sample of U.S. and Mexican cities, but falls only very slightly. We also present evidence that the border effect in U.S.-Mexican prices is not primarily due to the border effect in U.S.-Mexican wages. Finally, using the prices of 276 highly dis-aggregated goods and services, we estimate the variability of relative prices of different items within Mexican cities. This measure of relative price variability declines during the stable peso sub-period, but by less than the decline in nominal and real (i.e., CPI-based) exchange rate variability. Our results are strong evidence of a "nominal border effect" in relative prices within NAFTA, but also indicate that real side influences are important.

Keywords: Relative prices, exchange rates, purchasing power parity

IFDP 2001-697
Forecast Uncertainty in Economic Modeling


This paper provides an introduction to forecast uncertainty in empirical economic modeling. Forecast uncertainty is defined, various measures of forecast uncertainty are examined, and some sources and consequences of forecast uncertainty are analyzed. Empirical illustrations with the U.S. trade balance, U.K. inflation and real national income, and the U.S./U.K. exchange rate help clarify the issues involved.

Full paper (1319 KB Postscript)

Keywords: Econometrics, economics, forecasting, models, uncertainty

IFDP 2001-696
Patience, Persistence, and Welfare Costs of Incomplete Markets in Open Economies

Jinill Kim, Sunghyun Henry Kim, and Andrew Levin


In this paper, we investigate the welfare implications of alternative financial market structures in a two-country endowment economy model. In particular, we obtain an analytic expression for the expected lifetime utility of the representative household when sovereign bonds are the only internationally traded asset, and we compare this welfare level with that obtained under complete asset markets. The welfare cost of incomplete markets is negligible if agents are very patient and shocks are not very persistent, but this cost is dramatically larger if agents are relatively impatient and shocks are highly persistent. For realistic cases in which agents are very patient and shocks are highly persistent (that is, the discount factor and the first-order autocorrelation are both near unity), the welfare cost of incomplete markets is highly sensitive to the specific values of these parameters. Finally, using a non-linear solution algorithm, we confirm that a two-country production economy with endogenous labor supply has qualitatively similar welfare properties.

Keywords: International risk sharing, financial market structure

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Last Update: January 29, 2021